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Question – taxi regulator denies VicPol access to evidence

Jun 17, 2020 | Parliament

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:33): Indeed, Mr President. My question is to Minister Pulford representing the Minister for Public Transport. Last week it was reported to me that our taxi regulator, Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria, refused Wodonga police access to camera footage after a stolen credit card was used to pay a taxi fare.

Police access to taxi camera evidence

I asked the Minister for Public Transport if was the taxi regulators role to dictate when Victoria Police are able access evidence for their inquiries follow…

The regulator determined that the offence was not serious enough to pursue and it would require two CPVV safety compliance staff to travel to Wodonga for two days, including an overnight stay, and they would consider the request if the taxidriver involved was prepared to drive to Melbourne. Surely they cannot be serious. I am sure the ex-coppers in this room would agree. Sometimes small investigations turn into large ones. But this is not the first time this has happened. It happened again in March when police investigations were halted by the regulator’s refusal to hand over footage after a taxi was used unbeknown to the driver as a getaway car for several alleged burglaries in Wodonga. So I ask the minister: is the taxi regulator role to dictate when Victoria Police may access evidence for their inquiries?

Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Roads, Minister for Road Safety and the TAC, Minister for Fishing and Boating) (12:34): I thank Mr Barton for his question. For the drivers involved in those incidents that you have referred to that must have been very distressing indeed, and so I thank you for bringing those to the government’s attention. I will seek a written response in accordance with our standing orders from Minister Horne for you.

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:35): In other states cutting-edge technology is used to protect both the passenger and the driver with video and audio recordings that can be downloaded by an authorised officer. In Victoria we have the same systems that were back in the cars when I drove taxis. As a Parliament we are able to securely store and share files and information and hold live video meetings securely, and we have seen the amazing technology that can be rolled out in an instant to facilitate sharing of information for our Parliament teams working remotely during this time, yet it still takes two safety compliance officers two days and an overnight stay to access car footage of a crime being committed in our regions. So I ask: does the Victorian regulator have any plans to implement improved systems to protect passengers and facilitate access to evidence for police investigations?

Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Roads, Minister for Road Safety and the TAC, Minister for Fishing and Boating) (12:36): Again, I think Mr Barton for the question, and I will take the question on notice for Minister Horne but in general terms will respond in the interim by saying that the government is very much committed to our regulators being both modern and effective. On the specific question about this regulator and what technological innovation they may be considering or developing to support their work, I will ask Minister Horne to provide that for you.

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